NEW YORK –
The staredown was civil at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday afternoon, but that’s about all the goodwill shared between the two owners of the UFC light heavyweight championship – Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones – during their first press conference as the headliners of UFC 200 on July 9.
From the first question asked it was on between the two rivals, who had their rematch announced on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” earlier in the day. And with Jones’ fans egging him on in his home state, he took every chance he could to jab at Cormier – focusing mainly on his first win over the current champion in January of 2015.
Since then, Jones was stripped of the belt, Cormier won it and defended it, and Jones came back and won an interim version of it last week by defeating Ovince Saint Preux after Cormier withdrew from their initially scheduled rematch due to injury. Keeping up? Don’t worry, on July 9 it will all come down to 25 minutes at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“Competitively, I respect what he’s done. He beat me, so I do want to fight him again,” Cormier said when asked why this rivalry still burns hot after nearly two years.
Even when they tried to compliment each other, there was either a zinger at the end of the quote or a look that said, “Yeah, but…” which seemed to amuse the other UFC 200 competitors on the stage, Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar, Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes.
“I thought DC’s last two fights were great,” Jones said. “He had a great game plan against Johnson, fought a drawn-out war against Gustafsson. He did great. I don’t question DC’s ability to beat everyone else; he’ll just never beat me.”
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It wasn’t all putdowns and bad blood though. Cormier spoke of the UFC flying a camera crew out to northern California so the former Olympian could watch a stream of his son singing during the school’s spring performance, and the tone turned somber when Jones revealed that during fight week for the Saint Preux bout, his mother had her leg amputated due to complications from diabetes.
It explains Jones’ emotional walk-in to his first bout since January of 2015, one that included walking over and hugging his family before stepping into the Octagon. And once in there, it was business as usual for “Bones,” as he shut Saint Preux out over five rounds. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was dominant.
“If that was a bad performance, then look at the level people expect of me,” Jones said. “I got that ring rust off me and I believe I’m going to annihilate DC.”
Cormier wasn’t impressed.
“We all saw your bum ass fight on Saturday,” DC said after Jones asked the crowd if they were ready to see the Louisiana native, “Get his ass kicked again.” “You show up like that, I’m gonna beat that ass.”
In July, fight fans will see who’s right.